Friday, September 6, 2019

Letters to An American Lady by C.S. Lewis

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Letters to an American Lady by C.S. Lewis. The intro warned me not to search for deep theological insights in these rapidly written missives so I was expecting it to be rather dry. Instead it was delightfully replete with simple details of Lewis' life that gave glimpses into his marriage, daily habits, likes and dislikes, fears, and his walk with God. A constant theme was the necessity of faith without feelings.

On August 21, 1958 he writes, Dear Mary, Remember what St. John says, If our heart condemns us, God is stronger than our heart. The feeling of being, or not being forgiven and loved, is not what matters. One must come down to brass tacks. If there is a particular sin on your conscience, repent and confess it. If there isn't tell the despondent devil not to be so silly. You can't help hearing his voice (the odious inner radio) but you must treat it merely like a buzzing in your ears or any other irrational nuisance.... You must always go back to the practical and definite. What the devil loves is that vague cloud of unspecified guilt feeling or unspecified virtue by which he lures us into despair or presumption.

On his morning routine: I'm a barbarously early riser and have usually got my breakfast and dealt with my letters before the rest of the house is astir. One result is that I often enjoy the only fine hours of the day - lovely, still, cool sunshine from 7 till 10, followed by rain from then on, is common. I love the empty, silent dewy, cobwebby hours.... (Sept 30, 1958)

I especially appreciated these thoughts on busyness: Don't be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn't do. Each must do his duty in that state of life to which God has called him. Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing's sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern; so that three veils may divide you from the correct view! There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one's self-importance. And by doing what ones duties do not demand, may make one less fit for the duties that are demanded. Just you give Mary a little chance as well as Martha!

I found it fascinating that he hated letter writing but felt compelled to answer all letters. He even wrote little notes to Mary when he was in the throes of his wife's illness and death. Remarkable!

A fairly quick read, but a wonderful way to while away a few hours.


1 comment:

GretchenJoanna said...

Great quotes! Thank you. I think I have this book on my shelf but have never opened it!